Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Spirits of Jupiter (1985)

Welcome to the end of the world! This time around, the planets of the solar system are shifting their alignment, causing Earth's gravity to rise and people to go ka-rayzay. The film follows the adventures of capitalist arsehole Big Jim Driller (Rex Cutter) who - after having sucked the lifeblood of the proletariat for years - can now prove how great his manly man-ness truly is in a world gone completely bonkers.

He's got a cowboy hat, he doesn't have a conscience (although he kinda-sorta loves his family), and he really likes to kill people, so he's all set for the new world.

But he also has an (assumed) heart of gold, so, before the whole madness can even start, the local little person sage, formerly named Nestor but now calling himself Nostradamus, gifts Jim and his son golden bottom plates which - when worn under one's hat - protect the brain from the madness rays. I suspect this can only work with brains as underdeveloped as those of the Driller family, but what do I know? Obviously, and totally sanely, the Drillers apply the plates to their hats and don't have any problems at all with that. Like sane people would do.

While Big Jim flies out to his mine to see what's happening there, his son and daughter are kidnapped by the especially crazy police.

The second half of the film consists of Big Jim's search for them (hint: they are at the sheriff's place, where you'd expect to find them) and a lot of very boring chase sequences. Somewhere in between, Jim has to pull out his eyeball after his own dog has attacked him, but that's all in a day's work for Randian manly men like him.

The Spirits of Jupiter is two films. Its first half is an awesomely skewed movie about a small town full of creeps, loonies and scenery-chewers going even more bonkers than it already is, presented in classic point-and-shoot-o-rama full of "acting", "humour" and "special effects" that will put the viewer either into a (thematically fitting) state of madness or make her very happy.

Me, I was pretty happy about what was going on on screen. There's a lot of crap to admire here, really, like the Sheriff's obsession with staring at naked feet and grinning like a monkey. Or Big Jim's unsympathetic arsehole "hero" right out of Heinlein who the film seems to think is the most awesome man on Earth, like a mix of Charlton Heston's chest and Ayn Rand's politics. He's even irresistible to a woman who could be his granddaughter, although at least the film's not so Heinlein she actually is his granddaughter.

I also liked the utter impossibility to decide between sanity and insanity with actors this off, the steampunky thingy Nestor/Nostradamus lived on and the random insertion of the movie's bizarre theme song while Big Jim rides across some fields and so on and so on.

And regular readers will by now know how I like a good eye mutilation. Or scenes of scientific gobbledegook even Ed Wood could have been proud of.

But then, after fifty minutes of high cult movie art, the film suddenly decided that it didn't want to show any more of its peculiar type of crap and pretended to be an action movie, just on a budget lower than the catering costs for an Italian Mad Max cash-in and directed by a guy who thinks the main principle of any action movie is to be as boring as possible.

It's really too bad, because the film's first half is as mind-blowingly bizarre as one can hope for. The second half is just very, very boring with only slight moments of the mood of utter mental derangement the first specialized in.

Well, at least there's still a scene in which the Sheriff plays Russian Roulette with someone's toes and another one that explains in very strict words that only a guy who can shoot other guys is a real man in Big Jim's world (and Big Jim is, like all "Objectivists", of course always right - if only in his mind). But what can you do?



Unknown said...

Hello, We have a friend that was an extra in this movie and it would be a blast to give it to her. If you still have it, I'd love to buy it from you!

Nancy Dixon said...

I actually did hair and makeup on this film! A blast from the past working with Rockie Mountain Studios.